WA hotels call for air support

OCCUPANCY levels for hotels in WA have improved in the past six months, but have not returned to the levels experienced before the collapse of Ansett and the events of September 11, according to Sheraton Hotel Perth general manager Craig Seaward.

Mr Seaward told WA Business News that even though there was a significant impact on the Sheraton’s occupancy levels – due to the loss of the contract to accommodate Ansett flight crew – revenues for the year would be up, as the hotel had worked hard to cover a lot of the business lost because of Ansett.

“We are obviously very dependent on the airlines to get business in to and out of Perth,” he said.

“With only the one major airline flying at the moment, and Virgin still trying to get its strength up, obviously that has a considerable bearing on the amount of people that enter the State.”

Mr Seaward said the introduction of daily flights from Sydney to Perth by Virgin Blue Airlines would have a substantial effect on both the leisure and corporate travel markets in WA.

The move by Virgin Blue would keep Qantas competitive, with reductions in ticket prices likely, due to the increased competition.

“The more availability and frequency (of flights) into Perth, we will all benefit from it, both the leisure market and the corporate market,” Mr Seaward said.

“The more people who come to WA from anywhere, the State will benefit. We are not only affected by the amount of business that travels from intrastate, from east to west, we are also struggling with the amount of business coming from outside of Australia.

“Our Asian feeder markets are very, very soft at the moment in every degree, whether it be from Japan or our traditionally key feeder markets of Malaysia, Singapore or Indonesia. So whatever additional business we can get into WA will be beneficial.”

In order to attract more visitors to WA, many hotels were becoming destination marketers, he said, actively promoting WA as a great holiday destination, as well as promoting their own hotel’s facilities and attractions.

Mercure Hotel general manager Chris Duncan said WA’s tourism sector needed to concentrate on opening up new markets, both within and outside of Australia, while also trying to add value to the attractiveness of Perth as a holiday destination through incentives such as discounts or package tours.

“China is an opening market for inbound (tourists) in order to try and build up the Chinese market, which will be a major market for WA,” he said.

Mr Duncan said the start of flights into Perth by Emirates Airlines later this year would help boost the number of international visitors coming to Perth for both business and leisure.


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